Rams basketball finish on high note

COVINGTON -- The Newton boys basketball team ended its summer workout by finishing with a 21-2 record and winning the camp championship at Georgia College.

After winning four games on Monday and four more on Tuesday, the Rams went into the tournament as the No. 1 seed, winning all three games to go 11-0 at the camp.

"We beat Class AAAAAA Duluth in the championship game," Newton boys head coach Rick Rasmussen said. "We played them earlier in the camp and beat them by 10; we won this time by five. It was a good game.

"Our only losses were to Miller Grove, who won the last four Class AAAA state championships, and we lost to Tucker by one point. Both of those games were last Saturday at Georgia."

Providing the leadership were returning starters senior Rashard Cabane and junior Jalen Glover.

While Glover was the most consistent and best scorer, it was Cabane who did everything and was the enforcer.

"Rashard does all the dirty work," Rasmussen said. "He took four charges in the championship game. He took more than one charge per game on average. We played 23 games and he got 25 charges. Those two guys have really stepped it up. They hit big shots and make big plays."

While Kishon Rogers, Rodarius Mitchell, Jamir Davis, DJ Hill, MJ Boykin, Brandon Lybrand and Albert Zachery are all important parts of the team, it was Taylor Hawkins who made his presence felt.

"He's guarded people that are 6-6 and can shoot 3s and he held them to four points. He's just so tough," Rasmussen said of Hawkins. "You could put him on the other team's best player and that guy will have a terrible night. He's just so solid and strong."

Even though Rasmussen and the team did all this work during their summer workout, he knows that the real trick is to keep that teamwork and the feeling of comradeship until they can start their workouts again in September.

"Sometimes it takes some time to even get to where you were in the summer," Rasmussen said. "We had three weeks of practice with two practices every day. We're really playing hard; we played smart and it makes a big difference. We're learning some roles.

"It was a surprisingly good summer. I'm not sure I've seen a hungrier team in the summer than we have this summer. We went toe-to-toe and lost by one. We're just tough. They believe they're going to win and find a way to get it done."